Living with a shepherd mix
If you remind me of my dog, we’re bound to get along.
Jane Siberry, “Everything reminds me of my dog”
By the way, this beautiful pup we saw on Saturday was (and may still be) up for adoption. If you are in the Little Rock area, and are looking for a wonderful family dog, it would be worth checking with these folks. The boys called her “Rosco two-point-oh,” because she was a ringer for the dog we adopted from the city shelter three Christmases ago. We adore him, but there are a few things you should know about living with a shepherd mix.
If you follow the adventures of Coco, Heather Armstrong’s miniature Aussie, you are already familiar with the circus act that is the shepherd temperament. They are marked by deep loyalty, lavish affection, and insane intelligence (emphasis on insane). The latter trait is the source of equal parts comedy and frustration. You’d think anyone who can figure out what W-A-L-K spells, could remember not to get his tether tangled in the same damn bush fifteen times a day.
He shouldn’t need the tether at all, as we have a generous enclosure at the back of the house, fenced in at great expense, but his shepherding instinct is too intense. If he is outdoors, he has to be sitting at full attention on the highest point of our front lawn (to the delight of all delivery and meter personnel), where he can keep an eye on things. The few times we’ve tried putting him in his yard, he has wailed and whined like he’s fallen into an open grave. Whenever any of us come home from school or errands, he bounds out the door and circles the car, counting to see if all his flock have returned. If one or more is missing, he looks at us as if we accidently left someone behind.
Again: if you can DO MATH, you should be able to distinguish between the footsteps of a chipmunk crossing the front porch and a band of armed invaders. Shepherds are not idle barkers, in the sense of barking for the hell of it, but when they decide to raise the alarm, DEAR GOD THE BARKING. It’s like living with an especially twitchy, especially loud security system. It only takes a few seconds to disable, but your nerves may be shattered for an hour. As Heather says, dogs are assholes. Adorable assholes. But still.
Unlike Coco, Rosco is full-sized, maybe even super-sized — I know for certain his dam was a blue-grey shepherd, but we think he might have a little Rottie in the mix. I have no doubt he would give his life to protect us against an actual threat, and we know he has given a few sketchy characters serious pause for thought. We’ll be leaving him with a live-in house sitter when we go to Disney later this week, and Patrick is coming home early, but I know he’ll be miserable until his whole herd is back. As the Littlest Who once aptly put it, “Rosco is a real people person.”
I’m real glad we’re his people.
Do you/did you have a shepherd in your life? I would love to hear about it.